We can build resilience at a personal level, in teams, organisations and communities. I applaud the City of Melbourne for seeing the importance of resilience, and implementing the role of ‘Chief Resilience Officer’, supported as part of the 100 Resilient Cities Project of the Rockerfeller Foundation.
I therefore read with interest the article in the Age (http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/four-big-problems-for-melbournes-478088-chief-resilience-officer-20140730-zyf3p.html) talking about the challenges that Melbourne’s incoming ‘Chief Resilience Officer’ will face.
In fact, the challenges are at least three times bigger than what is mentioned in the article.
Firstly, the article really only covers preparation and management of crisis scenarios that impact upon the city. Of course, the role of the Chief Resilience officer must encourage proper planning and preparation for crisis and stress events, but this is just the start.
For Melbourne as a city, as a community, and a network of businesses and organisations, the new Chief Resilience Officer will need to find ways to collaborate across boundaries and have a much broader agenda, which includes:
- Encouraging private and public organisations to develop disaster and crisis plans
- Build the skills in a broad range of key individuals of resilient leadership – so they can walk the talk and make resilience a cultural imperative across the broader community.
- Provide scope to train people in the fundamental skills of personal resilience, which help strengthen organisations and communities when resilience is required.
- Lead the development of ‘coping strategies’ – it is not just being prepared, but developing the ability for individuals, businesses and the community to cope when crisis hits. Developing habits that encourage people to work together, rather than drawing apart.
- Lead the development of recovery strategies. Being resilient is about adapting to changes in circumstance, and even using it as a trigger for transformative change. Helping the city, it’s community and businesses to create recovery and adaptation approaches is critical – because the moment we need resilience, we will need adaptation and recovery leadership.
- Create best practice sharing opportunities to speed up knowledge and skills transfer amongst agencies, organisations and individuals.
- Build ways to celebrate and acknowledge acts of resilience to enhance its importance within our communities.
It seems like a lot to do in just two years. My hope is that resilience is taken as a serious topic, and this is just the start of a deeper, cultural shift in which developing and enhancing resilience is seen as a key pillar of ongoing sustainability and success.
Resilience offers the advantage of adaptability, which can benefit the city of Melbourne, its communities and the businesses that work and reside here.
Therefore I see the job as bigger than just planning for crisis. It is being the shining light that delivers a cultural shift so that the resilience conversation moves beyond contingency planning and into much more powerful domains.
If you were to take the job, what would be your first task priority?